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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Urbanist Picks at Hot Docs 2014

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Hot Docs

Hots Docs is only a few days away! Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the documentary festival will be screening 197 films from around the world from April 24 to May 4 (full schedule and box office here). Below are a few films with an urbanist or public space angle we think may be of interest to Spacing readers. Enjoy the festival!

3 Acres in Detroit – “Donnie and Fred knew nothing about urban farming when they picked up shovels and adopted a plot of land. This strikingly beautiful portrait looks at two unlikely characters as they endeavour to turn one of Detroit’s many abandoned properties into a three-level greenhouse.” (Short, screening with The Starfish Throwers)

The Beijing Ants – “Beijing, where rents have reached over $11,000 CAD per square metre, is soon to be the most expensive city in the world. With prices out of reach, house-hunter and filmmaker Ryuji Otsuka decides to target the suburb of Tongzhou instead. The Beijing Ants provides a snapshot of a couple’s maddening experience with a society in transition, revealing as much about changing attitudes as it does about the rising cost of living.”

Everything Will Be – “Vancouver’s once-thriving Chinatown is disappearing as hip new ventures move into vacant storefronts to the astonishment of the many elderly denizens. Sundance award-winning director Julia Kwan crafts a heartwarming and cinematically stunning ode to a community in transition.”

Love Hotel – “Small living spaces, long work hours and the need for privacy drive 2.8 million Japanese a day to visit “love hotels.” But now, these unique establishments are fighting to stay afloat against the “entertainment police” who are shutting them down for what conservative groups deem to be overly risqué elements. In this intimate portrait, we meet the everyday people who frequent the fantasy-themed rooms for refuge, privacy and play.”

Penthouse North – “Once a sexy bombshell with a promising movie career, Agneta Eckemyr was even a fashion designer who boasted a celebrity clientele. Today, she has one goal: to hold on to her rent-controlled New York City penthouse no matter what. The landlord of Agneta’s coveted Central Park apartment wants her out, and the frazzled pack rat can’t even find a copy of her lease, much less a way to make next month’s rent.”

Sacro Gra – “Following the stories and endeavours of citizens living and working along the giant road ring that encircles Rome, this Venice Golden Lion winner paints an enchanting portrait of everyday moments in The Eternal City”

Slums: Cities of Tomorrow – “Challenging conventional thinking, first-person stories from slum dwellers on four continents and brilliant analysis by such critics as Robert Neuwrith make the case that slums—home to a billion people worldwide—are the solution and not the problem.”

Tomorrow We Disappear – “When their neighbourhood is illegally sold to real-estate developers, the magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers of Delhi’s famed ‘tinsel slum’ use every trick in their arsenal to fight against their own disappearing act.”